Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Another Republican debate last night – and this time the crowd stole the show. CNN hosted the Tea Party debate down in Tampa, Florida – which took place in front of a raucous crowd of Tea Partiers unafraid to cheer on radical claims made by the candidates. The debate itself featured some heated exchanges between front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney – over Perry’s description of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme – a claim he slightly walked back from last night. It also featured a full assault led by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum against Perry for mandating young girls in Texas receive HPV vaccines – clearly not an issue that millions of American who’ve lost their jobs care about – yet an issue that piques the interest of Republican culture warriors. But the most shocking moment of the debate came when moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Libertarian Ron Paul if a 30-year-old who didn’t have health insurance was in dire need of medical care – should our nation just let him die. As Paul stumbled to answer – the crowd yelled out “Yes!” calling for people without health insurance to be left to die. After the debate – reacting to the blood thirst in the Tea Party crowd – former Congressman Alan Grayson put it best when he said, “It's sadism, pure and simple. It's the same impulse that led people in the Coliseum to cheer when the lions ate the Christians. And that seems to be where we are heading -- bread and circuses, without the bread. The world that Hobbes wrote about – ‘the war of all against all.’” Congressman Grayson is right. If the economy doesn’t improve – and Rick Perry is the Republican choice – then welcome to Tea Party rule in America where life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Republicans turned their backs on victims of natural disasters last night. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to pass a $7 billion aid package Monday night to help victims of Hurricane Irene – victims of tornadoes in the Midwest – and victims of flooding all around the nation – but Republicans filibustered it – basically telling people whose homes have been washed away that they’re on their own. Back in 2008 – it only took a matter of days for Congress to pass a bailout for Wall Street. Today however – with Republicans in charge – victims of the Joplin tornado back in May – still haven’t received the help they need.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Our students are drowning in debt. According to a new report from the Department of Education – student loan default rates have hit a 12-year high of 8.8%. With practically no prospects of finding a job out of college – over 360,000 students couldn’t repay their loans between 2007 and 2009. And among private for-profit colleges – the loan default rate is even higher – a whopping 15%. The state of Arizona – which is home to the University of Phoenix – the nation’s largest for-profit college – has the highest student default rate in the country. Meanwhile in Congress – Republicans are hard ad work cutting Federal Pell Grant programs that reduce the loan burden on students. What they don’t understand is – beyond typical infrastructure like roads and bridges (which Republicans also oppose) – intellectual infrastructure likes schools and colleges is vitally important to the well being of a nation. And right now – American is falling behind the rest of the world in intellectual infrastructure – we now rank 14th, 17th, and 25th, respectively, in reading, science, and math when compared to the 34 most developed nations on the world – many of which send their kids to college for free. No nation can be successful and compete in a global economy – with poorly education young people.
Speaking of education - in our “Look where 30 years of Reaganomics have gotten us” news…according to a new report from the OECD – the United States is the ONLY G-20 nation whose new workers have less education than its retiring workers. It’s true – the generation that is now coming to age after Reagan – truly is America’s lost generation.
On average, 100,000 people are shot by guns every year in America – yet the National Rifle Association is pushing legislation to further weaken the already weak gun laws we have on the books. The new law – which has 243 co-sponsors in Congress – mostly Republicans – would force nearly every state in the country to recognize gun permits from other states. Meaning whichever state wins the race to the bottom in passing lax gun laws – will basically be writing the gun laws for the rest of us too. Right now – that’s Florida – where a Bloomberg reporter noted he only needed to watch a 30-minute gun safety video and send 117 bucks to the state government to receive a concealed weapons permit. Florida’s given out more than 843,000 concealed weapons permits – that’s 843,000 guns that can be carried practically anywhere. And roughly 94,000 of those permits went to people who live out of state. As we learn on a weekly basis – as news of another shooting finds its way on to newspapers across the nation – our gun laws – most of which are written specifically for the NRA by bought-out politicians – just aren’t keeping us safe anymore.
More question are being raised in the Gulf of Mexico where another giant oil slick has been discovered. Last month – the non-profit group Wings of Care spotted the oil slick floating atop the Gulf – and a secondary fly over conducted last weekend found that the slick was still there. According to the Mobile Press-Register which collected samples of the oil bubbling up around the same site of the BP oil spill last year – the new oil bears the same chemical properties as BP’s oil from last year. Yet – BP denies they are responsible for another leak. I’m not taking their word for it.
Crazy Alert! Stay away from Shirley. A Malaysian Orangutan named Shirley gained notoriety at her zoo when she was often caught smoking cigarettes handed to her by visitors. But now – Malaysian wildlife officials are forcing Shirley to quit cold turkey. She’s been removed from the zoo due to poor living conditions and is being denied cigarettes because – as the zoo director said, “smoking is not normal behavior for orangutans." According to the group Nature Alert – Shirley seemed to have already grown addicted to the cancer sticks – suffering severe mood swings – and looking very “agitated” when she wasn’t smoking. I guess that'll derail RJR's new marketing campaign – featuring the Marlboro Monkey.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, September 13th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.